Will AI Enable HR Departments to Remain Relevant?

Can jobs and companies be saved with an AI optimized and assisted workforce?

If any department in any company has the most to lose and potentially the most to gain, from workplace automation and deep learning technology, it is Human Resources. Oh, the irony! Humans directing machines to machines directing humans.

The basic elements of HR can be easily augmented by AI. Utilizing predictive analysis the scheduling of hours can be streamlined and guarantee all shifts are covered, while limiting overtime or over-staffing. Hiring and onboarding can become extremely efficient. Eddie Shleyner writes, in his Workforce Software’ blog post, on how artificial intelligence will change HR departments. Removing them from stuffy basement level rooms at the business location to remote offices at home. AI will automate connecting new hires with related personnel without fumbling the introductions, ensure all training requirements are exceeded and the new employees are already successful. All this happens with AI doing the hand-holding.

Using blockchain for smart contracts to maintain consistency and meet all regulations could secure the processes even more. As Mihaela Ulieru
Research Professor, Carleton University wrote in Scientific American, Perhaps the most encouraging benefit of blockchain technology is the incentive it creates for participants to work honestly where rules apply equally to all.

A poignant piece written by Susan M. Heathfield reminds us that an HR department has many functions outside the mere scope of acting as a liaison between the company and employee. A few things she listed that are incorporated and upheld by HR: company mission, guiding principals, company metrics, and keeping the company guided towards success. Another factor Susan brings up is organization.

A company organizes itself based on its mission. Unfortunately, the needs of the customer don’t always align with the company’s current organization. For a bigger company to make sweeping adjustments is time-consuming and cumbersome; usually with lackluster results. By the time changes are completed it is possible the customer base has new needs.

The big banks are a prime example of the “too big to change” company. The fintech movement has been castigating the banks for being behind the times. Some claim the executives are not forward-thinkers and are happy with the status quo. The reality is that the bank execs understand that change does not simply entail a new digital banking platform, it also includes the workforce; hiring, firing, raises, promotions, department changes, rescheduling, restructuring and retraining hundred if not thousands of employees. The communication and scheduling involved in such an undertaking are practically insurmountable. Usher in AI.

With an AI driven HR department, changes in the workforce can be nimble and effective. Employees can be realigned and retrained without delaying strategic adjustments the company is making. AI will help maintain a workforce fluidity that allows the company to make swift changes when needed. And, the workforce will benefit too.

Employees will have access to the company’s AI platform. Artificial intelligence will analyze and learn everything work-related about an employee. Training would be scheduled if needed. Relocation to another department or office, to get better results, would be fast tracked. Increases in performance could be met with timely raises. Employees would have assistance 24/7 to ensure the highest level of productivity. The result is a highly optimized, AI augmented workforce that will allow employees to keep their jobs.

Sometimes employees will have to be let go. The HR department could play an integral part to ensure the terminated employee will not be unemployed for an unreasonable amount of time. In a recent article by Liam Tung on artificial intelligence, Bill Gates talks about jobs that require human empathy. Essentially, factory workers could be retrained to provide services for the elderly and others with special needs. This can happen within the transition period between jobs.

It’s ironic that a company like Uber, who has been at the forefront of AI, failed to leverage AI in its HR department; as recent news shed light on internal problems with their internal workforce. Much of what is transpiring would have been prevented with artificial intelligence driving human resources. Pun not intended.